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Homeless Youth in California Schools

Information, resources, and educational outcomes for homeless youth.

Homeless youth and students are a vulnerable population making up three percent of California’s students (2020–21 Census data). This page contains the state level educational outcomes and enrollment data for the homeless youth population. Resources and frequently asked questions are also available to support local educational agencies, homeless liaisons, and homeless student advocates.

Homeless Youth Definitions

This tab provides information about the McKinney-Vento Act as well as terms related to the homeless student group population specific to the California Department of Education (CDE). For more information and resources for homeless children and youth, visit the CDE Homeless Education web page.

Mckinney-Vento

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act External link opens in new window or tab.) (42 U.S.C. § 11431-11435) is federal legislation that ensures the educational rights and protections of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It requires all local educational agencies (LEAs) to ensure that homeless students have access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschools, as provided to other children and youth. The McKinney-Vento Act defines LEAs as public school districts, direct-funded and locally funded charter schools, and county offices of education.

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition also includes:

  • Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;

  • Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; 

  • Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;

  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii)

Definitions

California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)

CALPADS is a student-level data system which includes student demographics, course data, discipline, assessments, staff assignments, and other data for state and federal reporting. For more information visit the CALPADS web page.

California School Dashboard (Dashboard)

The Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab. contains reports that display the performance of local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and student groups on a set of state and local measures to assist in identifying strengths, challenges, and areas in need of improvement.

Census Day

Census Day is the first Wednesday in October, also known as Information Day, when annual enrollment data are submitted by LEAs to the CDE through CALPADS.

Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS)

CARS is a data collection system to apply for Categorical Program Funding and to report on the use of those funds. For more information visit the CARS web page.

Cumulative Enrollment

The cumulative enrollment data includes an unduplicated count of all students who had a primary or short-term enrollment for at least one day at any time within the academic school year (July 1 to June 30).

Enroll and Enrollment

Enroll and enrollment means a student is signed up to attend classes and participate fully in school activities.

Immediate Enrollment

Immediate Enrollment is when a homeless student is entitled to immediately enroll in any public school that students in the same area are eligible to attend; even if: students have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness or students do not have required documents, such as school records, records of immunization and other required health records, proof of residency, guardianship, or other documents.

Homeless Youth

Homeless youth is defined as children and youth and children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Housing Type
  • Hotels/Motels means living in a hotel or motel due to not having a fixed, permanent residence.

  • Temporarily Doubled-Up means living with relatives or friends, due to economic hardship (including unaccompanied youth and runaways).

  • Temporary Shelters means living in transitional housing.

  • Temporarily Unsheltered* means living in abandoned buildings, campgrounds, vehicles, trailer parks, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers, bus and train stations, or is abandoned in the hospital.

    • *Unsheltered is also defined as substandard or inadequate housing and is judged on a case-by-case basis. A rule of thumb would be to see the dwelling as comparable to an automobile, in that it shelters, yet it is not adequate housing.
Reporting Requirements

All LEAs are required to report the number of homeless students enrolled during a school year through CALPADS and the Annual Homeless Survey.

Residence Type
  • Fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.

  • Regular residence is one that is used on a normal, standard, and consistent basis.

  • Adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments.
School of Origin

School of origin is defined as the school that a child or youth attended when permanently housed, the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled when they became homeless, or a school that the child or youth has had some sort of connection to within the last 15 months.

School Stability

School stability measures the ability for a student to stay in a school for the entire school year.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth is defined as a youth that is not in the physical custody of their parent or guardian and meets the definition of homelessness, as stated above.

Quick Facts Data Charts

This tab provides quick facts in the form of bar charts and tables displaying homeless student data by program subgroup and homeless enrollment by ethnicity. Please visit the Homeless Children and Youth Data web page to access static data reports specifically for homeless youth.

Multi-Year Statewide Homeless Student Enrollment

multiyear homeless student enrollment bar chart. Descriptive text in table below.

Multi-Year Statewide Homeless Student Enrollment
Academic Year Total Homeless Enrollment
2016–17 202,578
2017–18 204,085
2018–19 207,677
2019–20 194,709
2020–21 183,312

Data Source: Annual census day enrollment which consists of the number of students enrolled on the first Wednesday in October.


2020–21 Homeless Youth Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity

2020-21 homeless youth enrollment bar chart. descriptive text in table below.

Homeless Youth Multi-Year Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity
Ethnicity 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Hispanic or Latino 72.8% 73.1%
74%
White 10% 9.8%
9.8%
African American 8.3% 7.9%
7.3%
Two or More Races 2.5% 2.6%
2.7%
Asian 3% 3%
2.8%
Filipino 1.5% 1.5%
1.4%
American Indian or Alaska Native .7% .7%
.7%
Pacific Islander .6% .6%
.6%

Data Source: 2020–21 California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) Unduplicated Pupil Count Annual census day enrollment (number of students enrolled on the first Wednesday in October).

State Level Educational Outcomes of Homeless Students

This tab provides state level educational outcomes for homeless students, which are published annually on DataQuest. DataQuest is the California Department of Education’s online, public reporting system that provides reports about California’s schools and school districts. To find out how to access reports specifically for homeless youth, visit the Homeless Children and Youth Data web page.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data cannot be reported for the 2019–20 school year for these data sets: English Language Proficiency and Mathematics Academic Indicators, and Chronic Absenteeism Rate. The most recent data for these topics is provided below. For more information on the available data for the 2019–20 school year, please visit the COVID-19 and Data Reporting web page.

2018-19 Percent of Students Chronically Absent

The graph below displays the 2018–19 school year chronic absence rates for non-homeless and homeless students. The chronic absence rate is calculated as the percent of students who miss ten percent or more of the days they are expected to attend.

Image of bar graph chronic absenteeigm rate for non homeless at 11.5 % and homeless at 25%


2019–20 Suspension Rate

The graph below displays the 2019–20 school year suspension rates for non-homeless and homeless students. Suspension rate is calculated as the percent of all students who were suspended one or more times during the school year for an in-school or out-of-school suspension.

bar graph displaying suspension rates for homeless 4.7% and non homeless 2.4%

Percent of Students Meeting or Exceeding Standards - 2018–19 Smarter Balanced Assessment in English Language Arts

The graph below displays the 2018–19 school year percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in English Language Arts for non-homeless and homeless students.

Bar chart showing nonhomeless English Language assessment as 52% and homeless as 33%

Percent of Students Meeting or Exceeding Standards - 2018–19 Smarter Balanced Assessment in Mathematics

The graph below displays the 2018–19 school year percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Mathematics for non-homeless and homeless students.

Math assessment bar chart non homeless 40% and homeless at 23%

2019–20 Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate

The graph below displays the 2019–20 school year four-year cohort graduation rates for non-homeless and homeless students. The four-year cohort graduation rate is calculated as the percent of students who graduate high school within four years from the time they enter ninth grade with a traditional high school diploma.

Graduation bar chart. Nonhomeless is 85% and homeless is 70%

State Level Accountability for Homeless Youth

This tab provides the latest statewide accountability indicators for homeless youth. Please visit COVID-19 Frequently Asked Accountability Questions web page to access frequently asked accountability questions related to relevant state legislation and the approved federal waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Elementary Education Act.

Homeless youth performance at the state level on the California School Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab. was for the 2018–2019 school year can be seen below. Visit the California School Dashboard to view statewide indicators.

image of Califoria School Dashboard Logo

Chronic Absenteeism - 2019

Chronic absence rate is calculated as the percent of students who miss ten percent or more of the days they are expected to attend. The chronic absence gauge for homeless youth is pointing to red. Homeless youth were 21.1 percent chronically absent which increased 1.7 percent from the previous school year. This percent is based on 186,376 Homeless youth.

Dashboard indicator pointed to red

Suspension Rate - 2019

Suspension rate is calculated as the percent of all students who were suspended one or more times during the school year for an in-school or out-of-school suspension. The suspension gauge for homeless youth is pointing to orange. In the 2018–2019 school year 6.2 percent of homeless youth were suspended at least once. This rate increased by 0.5 percent from the previous school year and is based on 269,615 homeless youth.

dashboard indicator pointed to orange

English Language Arts - 2019

The academic assessment outcomes for homeless youth on the 2019 California School Dashboard for English Language Arts is based on 119,476 homeless youth. The 2019 English Language Arts gauge for homeless youth is pointing to yellow. In the 2018–2019 school year, homeless youth scored an average 46.7 points below standard. This number increased 3.8 points from the previous school year.

Dashboard indicator pointed to yellow

Mathematics - 2019

The academic assessment outcomes for homeless youth on the 2019 California School Dashboard for Mathematics is based on 119,179 homeless youth. The 2019 Mathematics gauge for homeless youth is pointing to orange. In the 2018–2019 school year, homeless youth scored an average 77.7 points below standard. This number increased 2.9 points from the previous school year.

Dashboard indicator pointed to orange

Graduation - 2019

The graduation rate for the California School Dashboard is a combined one-year and four-year graduation rate. In the 2018–2019 school year 77.7 percent of homeless youth graduated high school. This rate increased 2.1 percent from the previous school year and is based on 30,804 homeless youth. More information on this graduation rate calculation can be found in the 2019 California School Dashboard Technical Guide (PDF).

Dashboard indicator pointed to yellow

Resources

This tab provides resources specific to the needs and outcomes of homeless children and youth.

Educational Support Services

Data

  • Homeless Children and Youth Data
    This page provides access to information and DataQuest reports for California's homeless children and youth.

  • Accessing Educational Data
    This page provides access to data collected by the California Department of Education (CDE), including enrollment data, demographic and student group data, staff data, school and district accountability, statewide assessment results, and directory information.

External Websites

Frequently Asked Questions

The sections below address the most commonly asked questions about homeless student data.

Questions: Data Reporting Office | dro@cde.ca.gov | 916-327-0219 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 24, 2021
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